A Little Good Advice Can Go a Long Waystring(38) "A Little Good Advice Can Go a Long Way"

AdviceHorn

Photo Courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

It’s no secret that we all want to do business with people whom we know and trust.  So, how do you build rapport and create trust with new contacts at networking events?  By offering value-added advice–solid, helpful information provided out of a genuine concern for another person.

Let’s say you’re a real estate agent talking with someone at a networking event who, although not ready to buy a home today, is heading in that direction.  You could say something like this:

Well, I know you’re not interested in buying a home right now.  But, when you’re ready to start looking, I highly recommend checking out the north part of town.  A lot of my clients are seeing their homes appreciate in the 10 to 20 percent range, and from what I understand, the city is thinking about building another middle school in that area.

See how it’s possible to offer some value-added advice without being too salesy?  A statement like this acknowledges that your prospect is not currently in the market (first sentence) but still demonstrates your expertise, so he will remember you when he’s ready to move.

This model works for consultants, CPAs, accountants, financial planners, coaches–just about anyone in a service-based industry in which knowledge is the main product. If you’re concerned about giving away your intellectual capital for free, look at it this way: few people are going to sign up to do business with you if they’re not sure you can do the job.  In the absence of a tangible product, you have nothing but your technical expertise to demonstrate that you have the goods.  And when you think about it, that makes sense.  Whenever you’re ready to buy an automobile, it doesn’t matter how much research you’ve done on a particular model, you’re probably not going to write your check until you’ve taken the car for a test drive.

The same is true for your prospects.  Give them a little test drive to show how it would feel to do business with you. If you’re a marketing consultant, give them a couple of ideas on how they can increase the exposure of their business.  Don’t go overboard; maybe offer a technique you read in a magazine or tried with one of your clients.  Just give them something they can try on to see if it works.

Not only will this open up a good conversation with new contacts while you’re out networking, if you play your cards right, whom do you think they’ll go to when they’re in need of your kind of service?  When it comes to building rapport and creating trust, nothing does it better than offering value-added advice.

Hyper-Active Visibility Is Not a Good Thing!string(44) "Hyper-Active Visibility Is Not a Good Thing!"

Years ago, I met a woman who was known as the consummate networker – she had hundreds (if not thousands) of contacts, giving her a wide-ranging network made up of people from all walks of life.  She was well-known as the go-to person if anyone needed anything.  Then, one day during a conversation she and I were having, she dropped a bombshell . . . she said that her networking efforts weren’t really paying off for her.  She went on at some length about all the groups she went to, all the people she met, and how she had made all these contacts and was continuing to make more all the time but wasn’t actually getting any solid business from her efforts.

Why wasn’t she seeing real results?  Because despite her great talent for making contacts and gaining visibility, she was never really getting to the heart of what networking is about–building relationships.  She was so busy running around and making appearances that she wasn’t ever learning how to actually “work” the networks she had built in order to build deep relationships with people and develop credibility with them.

It’s true that she was visible in the community–very visible, actually.  The problem was that she viewed “activity” as an “accomplishment” when it came to her networking efforts.  Her network was a mile wide but only an inch deep.  She had not taken the next, and most important, networking step with the many, many people in her wide-reaching network–she never devoted the time to developing the kind of rapport with any of them that would allow them really get to know her, like her, trust her, and want to pass her business.

I bring this up because I just recently saw the same thing with someone I’ve known for a few years.  He made a consistent habit of going to every single networking meeting/event he could go to and he was incredibly visible.   Not only was he always at networking meetings but he was always full of energy and enthusiasm from the time he arrived to the time he left.  Again, the problem was in no way due to a lack of activity, effort or enthusiasm in regard to putting himself out there and meeting new people; the problem was that he was running around so much that he never stopped long enough to spend the time necessary to establish the kind of long-term roots that lead to an ongoing, reciprocal referral relationship.

If your goal is to significantly grow your business, networking with your main focus being solely to make as many contacts as possible will not help you achieve your aim.  If you’re networking in this way, you’re also guaranteed to get burned out on networking because constantly being on the go and trying to keep track of hundreds of people who you don’t really know is exhausting.  There needs to be a balance between the visibility-creating aspect of your networking efforts and the credibility-creating aspects of your networking efforts.

What are your thoughts on the ideal networking focus/approach?  What do you feel your main networking focus is currently?  I’d love to hear your thoughts and, also, if you know someone with the type of  hyper-visibility networking style I describe in this blog, please share what you’ve observed as far as their networking technique and how you think it has worked out for them.  Thanks!

 

My Journey Into Healthstring(22) "My Journey Into Health"

Since my announcement that I am in remission, I have been receiving many requests to share the details of what I did to get healthy—so many that my wife and I  have created the Misner Plan in order to share this information with many more people than I can individually.

We all know and love far too many people who are obese and/or suffering from many health issues which are due primarily to how and what they are eating.  Many people know they need to make changes, but they are not interested in doing so.  Others want to make changes, but they don’t know exactly what to do.  There is a lot of conflicting advice out there and there may not be a lot of support for the changes they do want to make.

We are not selling anythingAll the information on the site is free (donations to the Misner Charitable Foundation are welcome – but notMisner Plan Logo with Photos required).

The Misner Plan offers both information and support for you as you seek to transform your life and improve your productivity, not to mention increase your outlook for a long and healthy life.

At the Misner Plan website, you will find blog posts with our personal experiences, struggles and successes, as well as upcoming contributions from other well-informed and renowned health-care professionals.  You will find recipes using the specific food list I have been using during my recovery. As you read through the content, please share anything you feel would be of benefit with your own social media followers and join in the conversation on the blog page.

A big thank you to my wife, Beth Misner.  It was her vision and hard work that led to the Misner Plan.

Do you know anyone who’s health has changed because of their change in diet?  If so, share it here.

Lollipop Entrepreneurstring(21) "Lollipop Entrepreneur"

Understanding your behavioral style and how it relates to your networking is extremely valuable.  Most importantly, learning how to identify behavioral styles in others and learning how to adapt your own approach to those different styles can really make a difference in your referability.

Often times your behavioral style can be observed at a fairly young age.  When I was 11 years old, I missed the bus to school one day. The school was only a little over two miles away and I had time, so I started walking.

Along the way I passed a gas station that had a small store attached to it. My eye caught some awesome looking lollipops – big, red, strawberry-flavored suckers. They only cost a nickel so I bought four or five of them and headed on to school. A friend saw what I had and asked if he could buy one. I said sure – for a dime. He bought it right away! That day I sold all the lollipops except the one I kept for myself . . . and I saw a great business opportunity.

The next day I walked to school again, this time buying a dozen lollipops. I sold them all before school let out for the day. I did this the next day, and the next . . . for almost a month, very happy with my margin and the money that I was starting to see growing from my lollipop enterprise.

That was my first experience in business, and it was obvious from that early time in my life that I was a “Go-Getter” behavioral style.  I am pleased to share with you that I have just released a new book with co-authors Tony Alessandra (one of the world’s leading experts on behavioral profiles) and Dawn Lyons (probably the world’s leading expert on how behavioral profiles relate to referral marketing).

How has your behavioral approach to networking and referral marketing helped or hurt your efforts.   I’d love to hear your story.

For more information on the newly-released book I mention above, please go to one of the links below.

Room Full of Referrals – Digital Version

Room Full of Referrals – Soft Cover Version

 

With All Due Respect for the Mayans . . .string(41) "With All Due Respect for the Mayans . . ."

With all due respect to the Mayans, 🙂 it appears that we need to give some thought to our plans for 2013.

Each year, a few days before New Year’s Eve, I head off to my mountain retreat in Big Bear Lake, California, to recharge my batteries.  Getting away to the mountains is something I’ve done for almost two decades.  It’s a great opportunity to spend time with the family and prepare for the onslaught of the coming year.

It’s also a good time to give some thought to the vision I have have for my business and life over the next year.

It’s hard to hit a target you’re not aiming at. The end of the year is a great time to think about some of your plans and goals for the next 12 months (and beyond). Even if all you have is a couple days, take the time at the end of every year to slow down and do some “vision making” for your business.  Remember that a successful businessperson needs to work “on” the business as well as “in” the business. Work “on” your business this month by creating your vision for next year.

It’s also good to include some personal goals in your planning.  Some of the business and personal goals I set for next year include:

  1. Regular dates with my wife.
  2. Several mid-week visits to our Lake House
  3. Several business/personal trips this year.
  4. Turn business trips into more fun trips.
  5. Complete at least one new book.
  6. Refinance a commercial property.
  7. Review a strategic plan regarding one of my businesses.
  8.  Continue to support charitable causes.
  9.  Work more “on” the business and less “in” the business.

What goals do you have for 2013?  Also, do you take a little time off at the end of the year to think about it?  Share your ideas here.

Lead from “Among” Not from “Above”string(58) "Lead from “Among” Not from “Above”"

Stewart Emery (Success Built to Last) was over my house a few months ago.  At breakfast one morning he told me about an interview he did with a well-known billionaire in the computer industry.  The billionaire shared an intriguing story with Stewart about an experience he’d had when the senior executives of a company interested in purchasing his company visited his office to discuss the possible purchase.

Stewart Emery

 

At lunch, the billionaire told the senior executives of the company he was negotiating with that he was going to take them to the Executive Dining Room.  They followed him to the dining room which was very nice but not extravagant.  But that wasn’t the big surprise.  The surprise was that the dining room had a buffet line.  Moreover, the billionaire walked up to the buffet line, picked up a tray, and stood in line behind everyone else.  The executives looked around the room as it filled up and they realized that this room was not an “executive dining room” but was the company dining room.  The boss stood there in line with all the employees.  He spoke to everyone.   No one was afraid to talk to him.  In my opinion, he didn’t lead by being above them; he led by being among them.  Stewart told me that the billionaire said the management team was surprised by the fact that he and all the executives ate with all the employees.  One of them commented that this would have to change.  For the boss, it was a test.  This was not the kind of company that he wanted to sell his business to.  The negotiation ended that day.

Companies have a choice.  They can move toward exclusivity in their organizational culture or they can strive, commit, honor, and embrace inclusivity in their organizational culture.

Sometimes when people meet me, they say that they are surprised that I am approachable.   I find that interesting.  I think they feel this way because sometimes we, as leaders, act in a way that people perceive as unapproachable.  We act “better than” to other people.  I believe people should be surprised when a leader is unapproachable, not when they are approachable.  The problem is that we live in a world where success sometimes creates a sense of separation (with both the organizational leaders and others).  One of the key things to embrace in a successful company is the sense that the boss, the owner, the senior executive(s) are, in fact, approachable.

What are your thoughts on this matter?  Please feel free to share any relevant stories and experiences you may have.

What Should You Bring on a Business Trip?string(41) "What Should You Bring on a Business Trip?"

……………………….

This week I am in Bangkok and Hong Kong speaking to business professionals about networking.  When you travel (especially internationally) it is easy to forget something you really need while you are in meetings or speaking to groups of people.  Last month,  I did an interview with an international magazine on this very topic.  The reporter asked me “what should business people think about taking with them on business trips that they might not normally think about?”

First, I had to give the things that may be obvious but that you don’t want to ever forget.  Things like:

  1. Plenty of business cards.  It is never a good idea to run out of business cards while traveling.  Tuck extras in your suit pockets, wallet/purse, briefcase, luggage, etc.  I put stacks in many places to ensure I always have extra.
  2. A badge.  If you do any networking while traveling on business, have your own professional badge.  Don’t rely on the hosting organization to do your badge and do it right.
  3. Extra pens.  Make sure you have a pen with you while you are doing meetings.  I always find that I need to write some reminders down while I’m talking to people.  It’s troublesome to track down a pen while you are networking.

Somewhat less obvious things

  1. The contact information (or business cards) of all your referral partners.  I sometimes find that having that information at my fingertips allows me to give referrals to people while I’m out networking.
  2. Hand sanitizer.  I know, I’m sounding a little bit like “Mr. Monk” the germ-a-phobe title character of a television series.  However, I have found that since I’ve started using hand sanitizer after shaking many, many hands, that I have been getting far less colds than I used to get.  Just be tactful about the way you use it.  Don’t desperately spray your hands every time you shake someone’s hands or else you will be acting like Monk.
  3. Breath mints.  As obvious as it may sound – I can assure you from experience that many people have no idea they need them!
  4. A memory stick.  Many times I have either needed to get a copy of something OR give a copy of a file or presentation to people while out networking.  Having a memory stick handy has been very helpful on several occasions.
  5. A camera and/or video.  A camera is great if you want to memorialize some occasion or a meeting with someone important to you.  A video is important for anyone that blogs.  It gives you a chance to interview someone during your travels.  I do this almost every time I travel.
  6. Tools for your business.  For me, that includes many copies of my bio for introductions whenever I speak.  Despite the fact that my team sends the bio in advance, there are many times when I arrive and they don’t have the bio handy.  Another tool for me is a PowerPoint remote clicker.  This is really important for me because I don’t want to rely on someone else to move the slides forward as a I present.  Also, that memory stick I mentioned earlier.  I have copies of my talk(s) on there just in case the group I’m speaking to has misplaced my presentation material.

There’s more, but this is a pretty good list.  What do you think is important to bring along with you on business trips?  Share it with us here in the comments section.

How Do Cultural Differences Play into Global Networking?string(56) "How Do Cultural Differences Play into Global Networking?"

Understanding cultural differences when doing business around the world is  becoming more important in a global society.  Even within large countries like the United States, there are definitely differences from one region to another.  When you go beyond that and look at one country vs. another, the differences become even more impactful on business.

When we concentrate on similarities with each other in business, the differences aren’t that important.  Problems arise when the differences appear to be all there are.  When entrepreneurs focus on the perceived differences between each other in business, these differences can become stumbling blocks to developing a strong relationship, which is, after all, the ultimate goal of networking.  When you factor in differences in communication and behavioral styles it exacerbates the perceived differences.

Although many networking basics are universal, if you can factor in these and other cultural nuances you will definitely get a leg up when doing business in other countries.  Your networking etiquette will be greatly appreciated as your business increasingly takes you into other countries, especially if you can learn a few words or commonly practiced traditions of that country.  Showing this kind of respect will go a long way in making a smoother connection with the local business people you are trying to work with.

The old saying “When in Rome, do as the Romans” is very appropriate.  However, one thing I’d strongly suggest–don’t just “do as the Romans,” take the time to actually “ask a few Romans.”  I have had amazing suggestions from local business people I knew in other countries who thoroughly prepped me for the cultural differences in networking prior to my arrival in their country.  Their counseling and coaching made a huge difference in my ability to connect in an appropriate way throughout many of the countries I have visited.

Be sure to come back next week where I’ll be sharing some valuable tips I’ve picked up about doing business and networking within the Asian market.  In the meantime, if you have any useful tips or bits of advice for successfully networking in a certain country or region of the globe, please–by all means–share this information in the comments section.  You never know who you could be helping!

 

Who’s in Your Room?string(25) "Who’s in Your Room?"

“Who’s in Your Room?”  This was the question asked by a close friend of mine, Stewart Emery (pictured in this blog) at a presentation of his that I attended a few months ago.

He posed an interesting series of questions and ideas to the audience; “What if you had to live your life in one room?  Whoever you want to interact with in life is in that room.  There is only one door.  It is a one-way door.  Whoever is in your room, stays in your room forever.  Whoever comes into your room impacts your life directly in many ways.  If you knew that this person would be in your room forever, would you have let that person in your room?”

He went on to ask, “If you let people in – what would your room look like?  Would it be:

  • An angry room?
  • Chaotic room
  • Happy room?
  • Conflicted room?
  • Would there be a lot of drama?
  • Are there too many people in the room?
  • Too many interruptions?”

His point was that the quality of your life is a direct reflection of who is in your room.  How you manage who you let into your room (and life) is very important.  How do we go about choosing who we let in?  He suggested a sort of mental “doorman” who is trained on your values and your passions.  It is this doorman who stops people from getting into your life who conflict with your values and passions.  Nobody gets in who doesn’t meet your personal values.

He asked us to do an exercise to think about the people who are in our room now.  Are there people close to us that don’t live our values?  Would we have let them in if we had thought about this concept before letting them close to us?

We design the room we live in, along with the people who are in it.  We can do that consciously, or we can do that by happenchance.  The choice is ours.  Understanding this idea now, who are we going to let in our room from this point on?

This concept fits powerfully with building a powerful personal network.  The people we bring in close to us should be people we want to work with.  They should be people who share our values and our passions.  Understanding this simple concept can help us to understand the difference between an opportunity or a distraction.  It can help us choose between a person who we think has a skill set we need versus a value set we wish to emulate.

What do you think about the concept of “Who’s in Your Room?”  Knowing this concept now – what would you do different in the future?  I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Unsolicited Advice is Rarely Appreciatedstring(40) "Unsolicited Advice is Rarely Appreciated"

I recently received an unsolicited e-mail message from a man named Chris.  The message stated:

I watched the “video for International Networking Week and… I found it personally offensive and amateurish.  I just thought you would like some feedback.  Consider that when you make your presentation on the Today Show [next week].”

OK, so I should begin by saying – I don’t know Chris.  I’ve never met him and have never talked to him.  Why he would feel compelled to send me such a ‘pleasant’ communication, I can’t fathom.

However, I am thankful to Chris.  I’m thankful because his e-mail message gives me an opportunity to talk a little bit about relationship networking.

Every time you communicate with someone (especially the first time) it is a chance to construct or deconstruct a relationship. This is the first time I’ve ever heard from Chris.  I’d have to say that “first contact” wasn’t very constructive.

I’m not sure what possesses people to send unsolicited criticism to someone they don’t know.  But it seems to be happening more and more in this digital world.  I can’t imagine that Chris would have the chutzpa to say this to someone if he were face-to-face with them.  However, the digital world is ripe with cyber critics who can say what they want and feel more removed from the situation via the internet (it’s possible that being outside striking distance may have something to do with that).

I went back and looked at the “offending” video.  Since Chris didn’t specify what “offended” him, I have no idea what was said that was so offensive to him.  As for “amateurish,” well, I understand that opinions are like noses, everyone has one (that’s the G-Rated version of this saying).  Despite knowing the opinion thing, I thought I should look at the video again closely.  It was shot by a professional videographer.  It had multiple camera angles, professional lighting, and even makeup (maybe that was offensive to Chris?).  I’ve had people say that this video was a bit “artsy” with the cutaways being a little distracting.  Some people didn’t like the switching between black & white and color.  At least those comments were specific and constructive.   But, amateurish – really?  I thought maybe this guy had some amazing website that would put my video to shame so I checked it out.  Ahh, rather than go to the dark side, let’s just say I wouldn’t refer him based on his website.

Here’s the bottom line:  if you want to succeed in life, make your own business better and be sparing in the way you criticize others.

I know, I know, some people just can’t help themselves.  So, if you just can’t hold back and you feel compelled to vent on some other poor unsuspecting soul, consider these four things before you press “send” on your nasty-gram:

  1. Is your criticism unsolicited?  Unsolicited advice (especially from people you don’t know – is rarely appreciated).
  2. Do you know the person to whom you’re sending the criticism?  If not, why are you really sending it (other than to get something off YOUR chest and put it onto their shoulders)?
  3. Whether you know them or not – is your intention to give ‘constructive’ suggestions (otherwise known as meaningful, specific, positive ideas) or just to vent?  If it’s to vent – tell a friend who loves you instead and leave the person you don’t know alone.
  4. If you send this communication – will it help construct a relationship or deconstruct a relationship?  If it’s the latter – remember Mom’s advice: if you don’t have anything good to say, say nothing at all!

No one has ever built a statue to a critic.  It’s easy to tell other people what they are doing wrong.  It’s hard to do the right thing yourself.

Have you ever had this type of experience?  If so, what did you do?  What would you add to my list above?  I’d love to hear your thoughts on this matter.

 

Emotional Equationsstring(19) "Emotional Equations"

I had the opportunity to hear Chip Conley speak at the Transformational Leadership Council this last weekend.  He spoke about his new book Emotional Equations.

Chip created this self-help paradigm in order to break down life’s toughest obstacles into manageable facets that you can see clearly – and influence.  When Chip suffered a series of tragedies in the space of just a couple years – and his heart inexplicably flatlined after a speech – he began using what he came to call “Emotional Equations” (like Joy = Love – Fear) to help him understand and articulate what was going on in his internal system. These simple formulas helped him focus on the variables in life that he could deal with, rather than ruminating on the unchangeable constants (the bad economy, death, taxes) he could not.

Emotional Equations give people a new perspective on life and lead them beyond the concept of emotional intelligence and into an emotional fluency that enables someone to identify, name, and manage elements that can define, hurt, and help them. Equations like “Despair = Suffering – Meaning” and “Happiness = Wanting What You Have ÷ Having What You Want,” have been reviewed for mathematical and psychological accuracy by experts. With compelling real-life stories, Conley inspires people who study his material through these equations and to formulate others to address their own circumstances.

Chip says: “In these turbulent times, when so many are trying to become ‘superhuman’ in order to deal with life’s speed bumps, tragedies, and setbacks, Emotional Equations guides you toward becoming a ‘super human’ being.”

I highly recommend the book.

When Does Going Faster, Make Things Slower

When Does Going Faster, Make Things Slower?string(43) "When Does Going Faster, Make Things Slower?"

I start this blog with a riddle: When does going faster, make things slower?  Well the answer is: when you are rushing a relationship.

A few years ago a close friend of mine, Dr. Emory Cowan, contributed an article for my book Masters of Networking.  I’m sharing his contribution in my blog today because I think it is a great concept to think about as we start the new year.

Building a word-of-mouth marketing plan requires developing a trusted network of partners — which means cultivating relationships. But relationships require time, energy, persistence, and, most of all, patience.

I believe that patience gives us the most difficulty. We live in a quick-fix, immediate-gratification society where patience is neither valued nor encouraged. We want our sales now, our business fully grown now, our satisfaction in wealth now. But when I grow impatient with the tedious process of developing relationships, one of life’s many humbling lessons comes back to remind and instruct me: Drink no wine before its time.

Many years ago, I bought some peaches at the farmers’ market in Atlanta. They were the famous Georgia peaches, grown in orchards in the Fort Valley region and renowned for their sweet, juicy taste and wonderful aroma. I took them home, visions of peach pies and cobblers dancing in my head. We ate some right away; most sat out on the kitchen counter.

One morning I was awakened by the aroma of peaches filling the house. I knew that something would have to be done with them soon or they would spoil. Wine, I thought. Why not make some peach wine? I knew my parents, who lived fifteen miles away, had an old ceramic crock and an old family recipe for fermenting wine from fruit. I found the crock, cleaned it, and, on the way home, bought cheesecloth for the top, along with yeast and sugar for the ingredients.

By the time I got home, my excitement over this project was so great that I could almost taste new wine as I cut up the peaches, added the sugar and yeast, and closed the top with the cheesecloth. But the process of making wine is slow, and I was impatient. With the crock safely stashed in the cool basement, I drove home from work each day with growing excitement. I would go immediately to the crock and smell the brew. As the days went by I became more intent on having the wine ready for consumption. But it was not happening fast enough for me.

So, one afternoon, frustrated that it was taking so long, I carried the crock to the kitchen, determined to speed up the process of fermentation. I removed the contents, used a blender to further emulsify the peaches, and added more sugar and yeast. Smug and satisfied, I returned the crock to the basement, and three days later I had — vinegar!

My vinegar-making triumph has become a life-shaping parable for me. When I am tempted to rush the process of forming relationships, whether in business, in a networking group, or in my personal life, I am reminded that some things just take time to happen. I am aware that letting my impatience force the process can turn the potential of new wine into vinegar.

Patience in developing relationships is a virtue. It leads to solid networked contacts who can help you with your business, your interests, and your life.

This is a powerful lesson for us all to consider for life and for networking.  Good wine and great relationships both take time.

What are your thoughts about this story?  Have there ever been times where you tried to rush a relationship and had a bad result?  Share your story here with us here.

 

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